Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ended his first official visit to Egypt, after visiting the country’s top religious and cultural institutions, attending bilateral meetings with high-ranking officials, and signing several cooperation agreements.
On his last day in Cairo, the Saudi crown prince inaugurated on Tuesday, with President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, the renovation Egypt’s highest religious institution, Al-Azhar Mosque, in the presence of its Grand Imam Ahmed Al-Tayeb.
The renovation process was carried out using a grant from the late king Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and was supported by King Salman bin Abdulaziz, his brother, heir, and incumbent. The process took more than three years, aimed at transforming and modernising the mosque.
Changes were applied to the mosque’s infrastructure systems, floors, mattresses, lighting, ventilation, and sound systems, in accordance with the latest standards and similar materials used in the Grand Mosque of Mecca.
It was one of the largest and most extensive restoration and development projects of the Al-Azhar Mosque, and was carried out under the full supervision of the Ministry of Antiquities, due to the historic nature of the building.
In a similar context, the crown prince held a bilateral meeting with Al-Tayeb at Al-Azhar’s headquarters, in which they discussed ways of boosting cooperation between Al-Azhar and Saudi Arabia, particularly on counterterrorism efforts, according to state-run Al-Ahram newspaper. They further discussed ways of countering religious extremism in general, among other topics.
On Monday evening, bin Salman attended a theatrical performance at the Cairo Opera House, along with Al-Sisi and officials of both countries.
The Egyptian play is titled Sallem Nafsak (Turn Yourself In), presented by a group of 27 young students from the Centre for the Development of Creativity, which was chosen by many critics as the best performance of 2017, and highlights a number of issues related to the reality of modern society in recent times.
Also, the recently appointed Minister of Culture Inas Abdel Dayem gave a brief speech about the history of the Cairo Opera House and its important role in Egyptian cultural life.
Prior to the opera, bin Salman visited the Cathedral of St Mark in Abbasia and met with the head of Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church, Pope Tawadros II.
The Saudi official expressed his appreciation for Copts’ suffering and the harms they have faced recently, and expressed his condolences for all martyrs. He also said that his country will support and will always stand beside Copts.
Bin Salman arrived in Cairo on Sunday for a three-day visit, which came as a part of his first foreign tour after being appointed as crown prince in June 2017.
Al-Sisi received the crown prince in a reception ceremony at Cairo International Airport. They further held a bilateral summit at the presidential palace in Cairo and signed a number of deals, including the launch of a Saudi-Egyptian investment fund between the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF) and the Egyptian Ministry of Investment and International Cooperation.
They also visited some national projects, such as New Ismailia city in Sinai and its tunnels under the Suez Canal. Al-Sisi and bin Salman inaugurated the Fursan resort—an integrated touristic project—on an area of 38 feddans in New Ismailia.
Bin Salman is scheduled to visit the United Kingdom on 7 March and the United States on 19 March.
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